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How Do You Retract Something Said in an Interview?

Updated: Sep 9, 2019


If you wish to retract a comment, then this would depend on what was said, the interviewer, the reason you think it should be retracted and whether doing so would be an advantage or not to getting the job. All these considerations must be decided in a split-second which makes it all a bit tricky, to say the least. We will look at a few examples where you may feel the need to withdraw a comment you have just made:


A negative opinion about business in general.

This may not need retraction depending on the business the company engages in. An explanation may seem more like an excuse than anything else. Gauge the interviewer’s reaction to your remark before elaborating on what you have said.


An unintended revelation regarding health.

Being upfront about a medical condition could backfire on a first interview where you want to make the best first impression. If you are functional despite the condition, due to medication, leave this for a later interview, but after an unintended slip, show how this condition did not interfere with your functions in previous positions.


Expressing a negative view of company policy.

If you have researched the company thoroughly and find that you disagree with any company practices, then it is best to decide before you are interviewed how you will manage this should the topic arise. Should you need to retract, explain your objections honestly and invite the interviewer to elaborate on the company position on this practice; this will help you decide if you could live with the practice or not.


When you express reservations regarding diversity or modern technology.

Explain that you are willing to learn to adapt to working with diverse staff and willing to embrace new technology despite your reservations because you are aware of how important this is for the position. Do not overstate.


Complaining about a previous company or friction with the staff there.

This is never a good idea. If you realise that you have done this, perhaps due to the interviewer’s reaction, calmly retract by adding that this was an isolated incident or show how it was amicably resolved, either by management or the parties involved.


Some final tips on retracting comments:

  • Humour can sometimes help with retracting. Self-effacing humour is preferable to humour directed at others in this situation.

  • Be careful not to come across as nervous. Be confident and do not belittle or ridicule when it is a serious subject, such as diversity employment involving disabled staff.

  • It is better to be well prepared for an interview so that any nervousness is eliminated, because being nervous is sometimes the main reason we make inadvertent comments.


Want More?

Take a look at our fortnightly blog. Our last post looked into over 50s considering a career change. Our other blogs have covered topics such as incorporating work experience into an interview and how to look for a job on social media. Stay tuned for our next blog, which will look at how to get your cover letter to stand out from the competition.


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